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Thursday, February 2,2012

Dimmer Switches

By Roger Zona  

Q: I installed a new light fixture in my dining room but now I would like to be able to dim the lights. Is that complicated?

A: Not at all. Check the available types of dimming switches at the home improvement store. Often they are hooked up so you can see how they work. There is the sliding type – that is a little tab moves up and down in a slot – then there is the dial type – a round knob that turns to dim. There is also a more hi-tech type that works by pressing a bar on the switch and holding your finger on the bar until the desired light level you want is reached. They all work well. Try them to see which one is more comfortable for you. Don’t buy a paddle fan switch. They look similar. Screw drivers are the only tools you will need.

The dimmers range in price from the basic simple dial type for $15 to the hi-tech model for $65. You should be able to install a new dimmer in about 15 minutes. First and foremost – when working with electricity, turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel. Check the existing switch to make sure the power is off. Remove the cover plate and switch. Disconnect the wires from the existing switch and connect them to the dimmer switch. Make sure you connect the green ground wire if the box has one and be sure the connections are snug and tight and that no bare wire is touching any other part of the switch. An easy to remember rule – put the wires in the new switch the same way they came off the old switch.

If necessary, take notes and make a little diagram before you disconnect the wires. When you are done, push the wires and switch back into the work box, secure the switch in place making sure it is straight, attach the face plate provided with the switch, turn the circuit breaker back on and hurrah! You now have a dimmer outlook on your dinner.

 

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